What is this nerdy graph?
This is what a deep rotation looks like. Despite the failings of Chien-Ming Wang, the Yanks’ staff still looks strong. A day after A.J. Burnett flirted with a no-hitter, Andy Pettitte gave the Yankees another strong and deep start, going 7.1 innings in a 4-3 victory. That gives the Yanks another series victory, and their first against an AL East rival.
Like Burnett last night, Pettitte to be in control the whole game except for one inning. Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter bailed him with a 5-3-6 double play (so nice to have a first baseman who can throw a ball), but a single to Akinori Iwamura followed by back to back doubles from B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford put the Rays up 2-0. The inning only ended when Robinson Cano made what John Sterling termed a “circus catch” behind first base.
He cruised the rest of the way — save for a fourth-inning Carlos Pena home run — retiring 22 Rays on 96 pitches. This was another case of the win stat skewing the actual results. The Yankees won the game; Andy Pettitte was the starting pitcher and pitched well. Yet his efforts go unappreciated in the win column. That honor goes to Brian Bruney, who struck out B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford for the second night in a row. He has now struck out the last five batters he’s faced, and none of them has stood a chance. It’s early, but it’s hard not to like Bruney right now.
Like last night, this game was a throwback for the Yankees. Robinson Cano supplied some power with a two-run shot to tie it in the top of the fourth, but the Yanks fell behind heading into the later innings. Then in the eighth and ninth innings, Derek Jeter came through. He doubled to lead off the eighth and scored when Johnny Damon followed suit. Then in the ninth he drove in Cody Ransom with an RBI single, putting the Yanks on top for good. It goes to show how early-season performance is nothing to sweat, especially with proven vets. Jeter was 1 for his last 20 heading into last night, but is now 5 of his last 10 with a double, a homer, and four RBI.
Capping off the throwback was Mariano Rivera, who made quick work of the Rays, retiring their final three hitters on eight pitches. I’ve seen Mo pitch so well so consistently over the past fourteen years that even without seeing the game (I caught the end on the radio) I could picture what it looked like. Mike added the only color commentary I needed: “I love watching Mo pitch. Catcher doesn’t even have to move his glove.” Perfect.
The Yanks recovered from an embarrassing situation and took an early series from one of their two tough rivals. They’ll head to their new home with a winning record. Here’s to hoping they don’t see the other side of .500 the rest of the season. The game is supposed to start at 1:08, but from the looks of it that doesn’t appear likely. For starters, they expect to introduce 46 former Yankees in nine minutes. They do this for Old Timers’ game every year, they did it for the All Star game, and then again at the final Old Stadium game. It’s never come close to nine minutes in length. In any case, it’s CC Sabathia against Cliff Lee, and it’s the start of the New Stadium.
Turns out that neither Kevin Russo or Austin Jackson were lifted in the middle of the game today due to an imminent call-up. Jackson took a pitch to the elbow and is day-to-day, while Russo left with an unspecified injury
Triple-A Scranton (4-3 win over Buffalo)
Kevin Russo: 0 for 2
Doug Bernier: 0 for 3, 2 K – replaced Russo, who was playing short
John Rodriguez: 2 for 5, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 K
Angel Berroa: 2 for 3, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB - picked off second
Shelley Duncan: 0 for 4
Juan Miranda, Todd Linden & Justin Leone: all 1 for 3 – Miranda hit a solo homered, scored a pair of runs & walked … Leone drew a walk, K’ed & committed a fielding error
Austin Jackson: 0 for 0, 1 HBP
Eric Duncan: 1 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 K
Ian Kennedy: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 WP, 6-7 GB/FB – 63 of 94 pitches were strikes (67.0%)
Anthony Claggett: 1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 2-0 GB/FB – 11 of 24 pitches were strikes (45.8%) … just one of those days
Brett Tomko: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 2-2 GB/FB – 14 of 22 pitches were strikes (63.6%) … check out Brett Tomko with the six out save
Can’t really say it’s a surprise, but Yogi Berra will throw out the ceremonial first pitch during tomorrow’s home opener. The pitching rubber and home plate for tomorrow’s game will be the same set used in the final game at the Old Stadium, and will be put into the Yankee Museum in the park after the game. As you probably suspect, there will be a small army of Yankee alumni on hand for the pre-game ceremonies tomorrow. Click the link for a list. · (66) ·
There was quite a bit of speculation going on after we learned that Kevin Russo and Austin Jackson were both lifted from Triple-A Scranton’s game in the third inning this afternoon, but Chad Jennings says that both players were lifted due to injury. Jackson was hit by a pitch on the elbow and is listed as day-to-day, while Russo is out with an unspecified injury. Hopefully neither is serious.
I’m thinking that Juan Miranda will get the call to replace Nady, serving as the backup first baseman and primary pinch hitter. They don’t need to call up another outfielder, they already have four on their roster, all of whom can play center at least adequately. In an emergency you could run Matsui or even Cody Ransom out to a corner spot. Plus no 40-man move would be required. · (137) ·
Discussion of the Yanks/Rays rubber game continues here. A third run would be nice, but don’t expect more from Pettitte. This is what he is right now, and if he can give up the hits while limiting the damage and going innings, the Yanks will take it.
Today determines whether the Yanks finish their season-opening road trip with a winning or losing record. (It’s also Jackie Robinson Day, so everyone’s wearing No. 42.) They’ll finish up their three-game series with the Rays in a rubber match. The game’s at four, giving the Yanks a kind-of getaway day as they head back north tonight to prepare for tomorrow’s home opener. We might be looking forward to the festivities, but don’t let that take away from the importance of today’s game.
During the Yanks’ rocky start, we’ve preached patience. Eight games does not make a season — Boston Globe writer Adam Kilgore put it best when he noted that if this were an NFL season “they would be about halfway through the third quarter of the first game.” It’s way, way early, and the Yanks have looked good other than a few hiccups. Yet a game against the Rays should never be taken lightly, even in the early goings. At least one of the Sox, Ray, and Yanks won’t make the playoffs, so winning those head-to-head match-ups is pretty important. Sure, they’ll meet 15 more times this season, but taking this one with a favorable pitching matchup and the Rays best hitter out of the lineup would be a big.
The Yanks have absolutely hammered Andy Sonnanstine over his career, scoring 17 runs (16 earned) over 23.2 innings. Strangely, they’ve only worked two walks off Sonnanstine in those innings, but they have hit six homers, more than any other team. In two starts last year the Yanks scored 11 runs in just 9.1 innings. Andy Pettitte has a 3.63 career ERA against the Rays in 146.1 innings (just a slightly better sample than Sonnanstine). In four starts last year Pettitte went 2-2 with a 4.12 ERA over 24 innings. His last outing against them came on July 8, in which he pitched eight shutout innings.
Just a quick note before we get to the lineups. Team president Randy Levine addressed Hal Steinbrenner’s comments about ticket prices, wherein the new boss said that “if anybody in any business had known where the economy was going to go, they would have done things differently.” Levine clarified the matter, saying Hal was talking about “maybe 150 to 200 seats.” He adds that tickets are selling well (like he’d say otherwise), and that while there are no plans to reduce ticket prices in the future, the team will not rule it out.
Looks like Matsui gets another day on the bench and Jorge will DH again. I wonder if this is more a Matsui not hitting thing, or a giving Posada some rest thing. The good news, though, is that Ramiro Pena gets another start at third. With the possibility that Nady misses the season, the Yanks could make a number of moves over the next few weeks. Putting Nady on the 60-day DL would open up a 40-man spot for John Rodriguez if that’s who the Yanks want as a replacement. The other option is Juan Miranda, who is already on the 40-man but can’t play the outfield. His only position is pretty covered by Swisher and Teixeira, so I think that J-Rod is the way to go. Once A-Rod comes back, the Yanks could DFA Cody Ransom, which would open up a 40-man spot for Mark Melancon.
(Mike also mentioned that the Yanks could sign Frank Catalanotto. That wouldn’t be a bad idea.)
And on the mound, number
forty-six forty-two, Andy Pettitte.
There’s no official word yet, but PeteAbe is reporting that Xavier Nady will need surgery on his elbow and be out the rest of the season. Nady hurt himself during last night’s game, saying he felt a sharp pain in his elbow after making a throw. This would obviously be a major blow to Yanks’ offense and depth. More as it comes.
Update by Ben (1:58 p.m.): The beat writers say that Nady just spoke with them, and he’s not saying much. He’s going to talk to doctors in New York tomorrow when the team returns home. Nady however said that the MRI showed a tear that will probably need surgery. How much time he misses is up in the air.
Update by Mike (2:03 p.m.): Pete Caldera is reporting that Nady said he will be placed on the DL. Not sure if this will happen before this afternoon’s game, and who will replace him on the roster.
Update by Mike (2:08 p.m.): Not sure if it means anything, but Austin Jackson was lifted from Triple-A Scranton’s game this afternoon in the third inning. He was hit by a pitch in the second inning, but stayed in the game to run for himself and play another inning in center.
Update by Mike (2:12 p.m.): Kevin Russo was also pulled from the Triple-A game. He might be on his way up to play some third base. If A-Jax is in fact on his way up, he better play every single day. · (224) ·
With apologies for the groan-inducing headline, let’s get to the worst-kept secret in Yankee baseball. According to his doctor, Alex Rodriguez is responding well to treatment and should return ahead of schedule. “We don’t want to rush too much,” Dr. Mark Philippon told reporters this week, “but according to Alex, his coordination, his motions, his muscle memory is coming back really fast. He told me yesterday that he felt better than he felt earlier at Spring Training, when he got started. We’re five weeks out, and I think it’s on schedule – actually, slightly ahead of schedule.”
While Philippon noted that A-Rod’s hip could face some inherent dangers, particularly on sliding plays, this season, he told Tyler Kepner that A-Rod may not even need the second surgery. While that’s certainly getting ahead of ourselves, A-Rod is likely to return earlier than May 15th. No word yet on the corresponding move from Selena Roberts’ publishers. · (78) ·
In a day, Yankee Stadium-mania will be in full swing. After sitting through three other home openers, the Yankees will finally make it back to the Bronx to inaugurate the new Yankee Stadium.
Over the last few years, we’ve run the gamut on the stadium. From city politics food options to toilets and my not-so-glowing review, we’ve touched on everything but baseball and how the stadium will play. That ends now.
Courtesy of Keith, a long-time RAB reader, comes the following graphic. Take a look, and click to enlarge.
What you see here is a not-quite-to-scale comparison between the new and old Yankee Stadiums. The dimensions, as the Yanks promised, are identical to the post-Jack Clark layout at old Yankee Stadium. Center field is 408 feet away from the plate; left and right are 318 and 314 feet away, respectively; and the power alleys are 399 to left-center and 385 to right-center.
But if we look at a little closer, there are a few signs indicating that Yankee Stadium may play as a hitter’s park. First, note the decreased foul territory and the reduced space behind home plate. Much has been made about this feature because it draws the people in the lower levels closer to the field. At the same time, it takes away outs from the pitchers and puts those balls in the seat. Down the lines, we see the same thing. There’s less room in the corners and thus less space for outs. Advantage offense.
What I think is the most significant feature though is the shape of the wall. The graphic clearly shows that the walls at old Yankee Stadium featured a gentle curve. The new Stadium displays fewer curves and more straight lines to accommodate the seats that hug the wall and stretch far into the outfield. (You can see that here and here.) The manual scoreboards, seen here, also eliminate some of the curve.
For comparison’s sake, check out this shot from old Yankee Stadium. The curvature of the wall is particularly evident in left-center.
Right now, of course, I’m simply speculating on this feature of the stadium. We won’t know for a few moths — or even a few seasons — how the stadium will play out. Right now, however, if I were a betting man, I’d bet on a hitter’s park. Good thing the Yanks are a strike out-centric pitching team this year.
What is this nerdy graph?
Just like in his first start, A.J. Burnett was just what the Yankees needed last night. After a night when they were thumped 15-5, he went eight innings, taking a no-hitter into the seventh. It was not to be, but Burnett still came away with a win as the Yanks rallied in the late innings to beat the Rays 7-2.
Not only did the Yanks need A.J. to keep the score down, but they needed him to do it efficiently. With heavy bullpen usage over the past two days and no off-day for another eight, the relievers could have used a rest; A.J.’s eight innings gave them just that. Jeter’s late homer bought Mo another day off, and Brian Bruney closed out the game by striking out the side in order.
Burnett With Butterfly Wings (keeper?) was on from the first batter. Only a few hitters made even decent contact through the first six, and a few guys (ahem, Dioner Navarro) looked downright silly. His curveball was absolutely filthy, made even more so because A.J. used it both in the strike zone and in the dirt. In short, the Yanks $82.5 million man earned his keep tonight.
Gritt Girtner starred on the offensive side with two doubles and three runs scored. It did help that Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton had him played like a Little Leaguer, but a double’s a double. Swisher continued his hot-hitting ways with two more hits, including a homer. The Captain, who as we mentioned was 1 for his last 20, went 3 for 5 including a game-icing homer in the ninth.
The game in general felt like the anti-2008. The Yanks worked a run on a sac fly in the first and another on a Nick Swisher solo homer in the fourth and then let their pitching do the talking. Then, when A.J. allowed a forgivable two runs, the offense came back and scored some more. That just never seemed to happen last year.